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World on Fire: How Exporting Free-Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability Paperback – 1 Jul 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099455048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099455042
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 460,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"There is a plethora of books about globalisation, many saying roughly the same thing. This one is different ... This book is a gem ... Her theme is different, rich and compelling ... A pleasure to read" (Guardian)

"Very, very readable; very powerful - this is a very illuminating book" (Clare Short A Good Read)

"The greatest tribute to any book is the conviction upon closing it that the senseless finally makes sense. That's the feeling left by Amy Chua's World on Fire ... provocative, evocative, nuanced and highly readable, starting at page one" (Washington Post)

"Ambitiously conceived, impressively researched and gracefully written, Amanda Foreman has crafted a narrative rich in detail, anecdote, insight and personalities. It puts a human face - many human faces - on a brutal conflict remorselessly descending into an inhuman total war" (Brian Jenkins)

"A tour de force, a work of extreme virtuosity both in the research and the telling" (Bloomberg News)

Book Description

The New York Times bestseller and one of The Economist's Best Books of the Year 2003. Perfect for fans of current affairs books with an emphasis on globalisation, by writers such as Naomi Klein and Eric Schlosser, World on Fire is the most original contribution to the globalisation debate in years.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marcus Ferrar on 8 Mar 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A stimulating book full of insights from all over the world. The main argument is that free market democracy can lead to violence against market-dominant minorities. It is a broadside attack at American policy of exporting democracy will-nilly. Not being American, I feel less concerned at this polemical point.

The argument clearly applies in many cases cited, and the insights extended my understanding. How Chua overdoes it sometimes. For example, Croatians are cited as being attacked by Serbs because they were a market-dominant minority. Not convincing. There were longstanding ethnic disputes which had little or nothing to do with economy. Slovenia WAS a market-dominant economy, but it got away into independence virtually unscathed in 1991.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ross on 13 July 2009
Format: Paperback
I'll assume that most people reading this are familiar with Any Chua's basic idea of `Market Dominant minorities' and the hostility that they receive. When I first read this a few years ago I thought it was fantastic and explained so much. However rereading it recently I have doubts.

The phenomenon certainly does exist in much of the world, the overseas Chinese (of which her family is part) has achieved enormous economic dominance in much of East Asia and been the victim of mob violence repeatedly as a result over the course of many centuries. The Lebanese in West Africa, Indians in East Africa and Jews in Eastern Europe are also examples of ethnic minorities vastly out performing the indigenous population.

However there are some things that leave me unconvinced, Chua claims that these resentments are likely to be inflamed by democracy and free markets. It is certainly true that free markets exacerbate the differences but World On Fire gives examples of this kind of mob violence going back centuries, to well before the era of democracy. Some of the outbreaks of violence, such as the anti Chinese riots in Indonesia in 1998 were concurrent with democracy, but surely this is because the same forces that weakened the grip of the dictator, Suharto, weakened the states control of law and order.

Secondly she tries to fit the Market Dominant Minorities idea to too many conflicts, for example she emphasises that the Croats were much wealthier than the Serbs as a possible cause of the bloody Yugoslav wars. Yet Serbian nationalist propaganda and violence was initially directed to a much greater extent at the impoverished ethnic Albanians.

Thirdly think her concept needs refinement.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The premise of the book is that the spread of free market capitalism and democracy are assumed to be desirable by most policy makers. "Free markets and free men" being the maxim. However, Chua argues that free market capitalism allows the concentration of large amounts of wealth in the hands of a privileged minority. By contrast, democracy concentrates power in the hands of the majority. The majority will naturally resent the wealth of the minority and will see democracy as a means to seize the wealth of the minority. Thus, the spread of free market capitalism and democracy can actually be a bad thing in some parts of the world.

This friction between the poor majority and rich minority are especially severe where there is an ethnic dimension to these identities. Chua argues that in many countries, certain ethnic minorities often do disproportionately well economically in sharp contrast to the ethnic native majority community in which it resides. For example, the whites of Zimbabwe were an extremely successful market dominant minority, in sharp contrast to the native black majority around them. The black community voted in Mugabe, largely on his promise to seize the wealth of the whites and "redistribute" it.

Chua argues that in this set up, there are two possible alternatives - one, is that the poorer ethnic majority will elect a Mugabe-like tyrant who will seize the wealth of the minority, but in doing so drive them and their expertise out. The second is that the ethnic minority will take anti-democratic measures so as to suppress popular demands for redistribution of wealth.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "bexely2000" on 26 Jan 2003
Format: Hardcover
This examination of the effects of US led globalisation sheds light on an otherwise seldom discussed aspect of the phenomenon. The (frequently 'foreign') minority that becomes exceedingly rich from the spoils of the export of capitalism are inciting a backlash by 'ordinary' disgruntled people, so it is claimed, and duly, many pertinent examples are cited.
Yet, there is the feeling that although good references and suitable examples are offered, there is still somewhat of a jump between the reasons for 'Why They All Hate Us' - a chapter title, and any conclusions that are subsequently drawn.
In much the same way as Bracken's 'Fire in the East' purports the angry, vengeance-seeking rise of the 'East', just does not ring true, so too it is with this book. However, the book is interesting and not dry in an academic sense, and highlights yet more potential problems of capitalism and globalisation.
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